Kurds declare an interim administration in Syria

Kurds declare an interim administration in Syria

ARBIL - Reuters
Kurds declare an interim administration in Syria

People sit in the back of a truck as they celebrate the liberation of villages from Islamist rebels near the city of Ras al-Ain in the province of Hasakah on Nov 6. REUTERS photo

Syrian Kurds declared an interim administration in northeastern parts of the country (Rojava) on Nov. 12, further solidifying their geographic and political presence after driving out radical Islamist rebels. 

Long oppressed under Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his father before him, Kurds view the civil war as an opportunity to gain more autonomy - like their ethnic kin in neighbouring Iraq. 

Control over Syria's northeast, where Kurds predominate, had in recent months swung back and forth between them and mainly Arab Islamist rebels, who strongly oppose what they suspect are Kurdish plans to seccede.

But a Kurdish militia prevailed earlier this month, and at a meeting held in the Syrian city of Qamishli on Nov. 12, a committee of Kurdish and other groups said it was now time to set up an administrative body to run the region. 

"In light of the current circumstances which Syria is going through, and in order to fill an administrative acuum ... we see is as utmost necessity to reach a transitional, pluralistic, democratic administration," said a statement sent to Reuters.

The statement said they were committed to the unity of Syria and asked world powers and neighbouring countries to back the new administration, which they said had won the support of different political groups and minorities in the area.

The dominant force on the ground in Syria's Kurdish areas is the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which has a well-trained militia and is affiliated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The PYD's growing clout has also dismayed some fellow Kurds, who accuse it of being in league with al-Assad and seeking to replace his authoritarian one-party rule with its own. PYD representative Mohammed Reso said some Syrian Kurdish parties had refused to sign up to the plan.

PYD did not keep its promise: Davutoğlu

In his first remarks after the declaration of the interim administration, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu accused the PYD of "not keeping its promise."

"We told them to avoid a de facto administration declaration that could divide Syria. We told them to put a distance between themselves and the [al-Assad] regime," Davutoğlu said during a live interview on private broadcaster NTV on Nov. 12. 

He criticized the Kurdish group for adopting an "ambivalent" posture. "The most serious mistake that the PYD is making is to put under pressure on the other Kurdish opposition groups in [their] controlled areas. We receive a lot of complaints from Kurds [in northern Syria], and we hope that they will change this attitude," Davutoğlu added.

PYD leader Saleh Muslim had visited Turkey twice in a brief period in July and August as the open conflict between Kurdish milita groups and jihadist rebels mounted, causing a refugee outflow in Rojava. He reportedly discussed with Turkish officials the PYD's plans to form an autonomous administration that had triggered concerns in Ankara.